Winter World; bloom.

Poem by: Jazmine Alcon
Art by: Vivian Liao

we have had different crosses to carry
yours made of concrete
mine made of wood
i wasn't around to see the blood
trickle down your face as
this world crucified
you for seeing light
for taking a breath and
for opening your mouth
i wasn't around to see you work the fields
and come home to a flickering flame
illuminating the symphony being whispered by your parents
as they tried to count and name
the different ways to survive
to do you good
to do you better than
the world has ever done them

your skin became tough
taking hits; getting thicker
making it harder to feel
making it easier to put one foot in front of the other
making the world much bigger than a field
much bigger than the lady's backyard
where you watched your mother's
back become a mountain
as she scrubbed the dirt out them white shirts
scrubbed at the agony she's been forced to swallow so you wouldn't have to
but that didn't stop you from getting a taste behind your mother's back
as you watched her and papa
smile big but in a manner where
the curves of their lips were always tethered

by reality

by the fear that nothing good lasts long
by the truth that you work as hard as you should, as hard as you've been taught
hard enough to make millions
but barely scrape enough copper
to put rice on the table and some salt

you did not learn to be patient
there was no waiting in this game
just strategic moves
to get to the next round
where there may be something better
but never a finish line to cross

now i watch you
your back turning into mountains
your lips tethered by fear that i won't understand
or maybe i do and i can't grasp it enough
my fingers too small
can't handle the weight
and you tell me these stories
so raw it almost doesn't seem real
not in this day and age
not anymore
voice so loud that it echoes but it's hollow

i hear the soft whisper
just like you did with your mama and papa
i hear the things you don't want me to
you don't have to say them either
i hear your bones cracking
and the nails digging into your palms
you close your fists when you're around me but i can still see

your anger
the way you'd bark quickly
almost automatically
at anything that moved
your fences
built so nobody could see through them or break them down
your detachment
because the language of emotion was a luxury you never had

i say i love you anyway
not because of the reason i used to
not because i want to hear you say it back,
(i still do)
but because i want you to know.

within those three words
those spaces, so infinite
filled with things i can never bring myself to say
things i can never learn how to express.
promises, hopes, and gratefulness
there they lie
seeds that i hope will blossom
fast enough so you could